MILLIONS of parents faced chaos and confusion as schools across the country were told to shut from Tuesday, January 5 with England entering a new national lockdown.
The PM bowed to significant pressure to order schools to move to remote teaching until the middle of February for the majority of students – but does this mean nurseries are closing too in the new lockdown?
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Are nurseries open in lockdown 3?
Boris Johnson announced on Monday January 4 that nurseries will remain open as England is plunged into another lockdown.
The PM said schools for special needs students will also remain open but from Tuesday, January 5 all primary and secondary schools will stay closed until February half term.
Schools have triggered three times more Covid outbreaks than hospitals since October, according to official figures.
Reports revealed that 26 per cent of investigated Covid cases were linked to nursery schools, primaries, secondaries and universities over the 12 weeks to the end of December, according to Public Health England.
Schools, which remained open during England's November lockdown, could be behind the rapidly increasing infection rate.
How will social distancing be enforced in nurseries?
The latest advice states that nurseries may need to stagger their start and finish times in order to keep groups of people apart at the entrances.
Your nursery may also alter its drop off and collection points, while parents may not be allowed to gather at school gates and may also need an appointment to enter the site.
Risk assessments will be carried out for activities while contact between adults and children will be minimised.
It means different age groups could be kept apart with different break times and classrooms.
Government advice states: "It is likely that for younger children the emphasis will be on separating groups, and for older children, it will be on distancing."
What are the rules on nurseries in the rest of the UK?
In Scotland, nurseries are closed until February with the country entering its own national lockdown.
However they will stay open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
Nurseries in Northern Ireland have remained open while in Wales schools and colleges will not reopen until January 18 – but no other changes have been announced.
Do nursery workers have to wear PPE?
Nursery workers will not have to wear PPE or face coverings while at work because "the measures nurseries are putting in place already reduce the health risks", according to the latest advice.
PPE is only necessary if a child develops Covid symptoms while at the nursery and only if a two metre distance cannot be maintained.
It is not mandatory for nursery workers, visitors or pupils to wear face coverings.
However, it is up to each individual nursery as to whether they ask all adults to wear face coverings in areas where social distancing is not possible, for example in corridors and communal areas.
Children will not have to wear face coverings.
Labour leader Keir Starmer previously demanded all schools shut under a new national shutdown with the virus raging "out of control".
He said: "The more we delay, the worse it will get. The longer we delay, the longer schools will be closed for.
"I’m afraid the closure of schools is now inevitable and therefore that needs to be part of… the national plan for further restrictions."
Parliament will also be recalled to sit on Wednesday – meaning there will likely be a vote on the measures, and they are expected to be national rather than regional like the Tier changes.
The Covid threat level is expected to be raised to five – the top level of warnings and the first time it's been this number.
This means there is a risk the NHS will become overwhelmed – and people should stick to extreme social distancing.
New figures revealed another 58,000 new cases were recorded today – as they topped 50,000 for the last seven days in a row.
Ex-Health Sec Jeremy Hunt said the country is facing a "national emergency" over the new variant of coronavirus.
He added: "I think we have got to recognise we have a very, very virulent new strain and it is a national emergency and we are going to need to go a lot further and a lot faster and the sooner we take these tough measures the better."
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